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Virginia Election Official: If You Don’t Sign GOP Loyalty Oath, You Don’t Get A Ballot

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Update, 1/14/16: The Washington Post reported Thursday that a federal judge ruled against the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the GOP loyalty pledge, ruling that the plaintiffs did not provide sufficient enough evidence that voters would suffer “irreparable harm” by taking the pledge.

 

The Hill reported Wednesday that a Virginia school district is now considering closing its schools on March 1 for the state’s primary elections. The reason? County officials are concerned that some voters will become unruly because of a new party requirement that voters must affirm they are a Republican before casting a ballot.

Fairfax County Electoral Board Secretary Katherine Hanley confirmed the concerns of many that if GOP primary voters refuse to sign the pledge saying they are a Republican, they could be turned away and not allowed to vote.

“If you say: ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I have to say: ‘You don’t get a ballot,’” she told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. The remarks were made shortly before the board voted 9-1 to ask school officials to cancel classes on that Tuesday.

Donald Trump has fervently opposed the loyalty pledge, calling it a “suicidal mistake.” Three African-American pastors who support Trump have filed a lawsuit against Virginia and the Virginia GOP, claiming that the pledge will discourage low-income and minority voters from participating in the process. The plaintiffs argue that the loyalty pledge violates the Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Hill reports:

“That’s what this provision is,” said Hanley, a Democrat who formerly chaired the Board of Supervisors from 1995 to 2003 and served in the cabinet of former Gov. Tim Kaine (D). “That’s about as contentious as anything we can possibly be doing in a polling place on Election Day.”

 

Republican leaders in the state say the pledge will help to keep Democrats from voting in the party’s primary, throwing off the will of the party. But Trump has argued it will only dissuade voters who want to support a Republican candidate but are frustrated with the establishment.

Virginia is an open primary state, meaning voters can choose whatever party ballot they want on election day. Voters do not declare a party affiliation when they register to vote and when they show up at the polls on primary day they pick a party ballot and select from the candidates of that party. Once they select a party ballot, they cannot vote in another party’s primary or for another party’s candidates.

The remaining questions on this issue surround the legality of the loyalty pledge itself. When state law allows voters to freely choose a primary ballot, can poll workers or election officials legally turn voters away if they refuse to sign the pledge? Can such a pledge, which explicitly serves the interest of a private organization, be enforced by the state to the point that voters are denied a voice in the first stage of the election process?

One thing seems to be clear, though, and that is an official with the Fairfax County Electoral Board believes that the party’s pledge requirement is so contentious that 167 schools in Fairfax County should be closed for the entire day, which the Fairfax County Superintendent described as unprecedented in an email to parents and staff.

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372 comments
LindaUnderwood
LindaUnderwood

I’m a valid and legal voter in Virginia. I’m an old-fashion Reagan Democrat.I’m not a Republican nor Democrat, simply a voter (which should make me a person legally eligible to make up my own mind and cast my ballot).I can’t believe that the GOP leadership in this State would make a requirement beyond the necessary validation and identification for me to vote for whomever I feel would be the best candidate for President. The Virginia GOP leadership has made a decision that I must sign a pledge that I am a Republican in order to cast my ballot for a Republican candidate. That smells a lot like tyranny or pre-war politics. As a Virginian..historically I’ve been able to simply cast my vote. When I arrive at my polling location, what will happen to me as a voter if I do not want to sign?I guess, I can’t vote for a Republican.Who is the winner here? Certainly not the GOP.I can’t speak for Virginia, but the up-shot will be that cross-over voters will not cast their ballots. My vote would have gone to a Republican, but I’m not going to sign something that I don‘t believe to be legal or in the best interest in America. Sign a pledge or don’t vote!!!!

Duane
Duane

I live in Virginia.. they have tried that Before.. But it seems that ONLY the Republicans do this.. Not the Democrats.. You see when ever the Polls are open I go Vote. The dems did it one time.. BUT they paid for election.. and NOT by taxpayers expense.

Yes I have seen them.. and yes I have signed them.. they are NOT worth the paper they are printed on.. and Will NOT follow it.. ANY party that forces people to sign a statement is NOT a very secure party... 

The Statements are a Major Joke!.. plus I think Most people see it that way! 

 

Vicky Hamm
Vicky Hamm

Virginia law already restricts Virginians into voting in only one primary. But we don't party register. I can vote in the democratic primary and then decide to vote republican if I choose. Or vice versa. I am not going to make a party oath to any political party. My only Oath of blind loyalty is to the man I choose to marry, my family and my God. And my political oath is strictly to the nation that I love. Everybody else has to earn my loyalty and work to keep it...it's not blindly given for whoever. I value my vote and my nation,too much to just promise it away to whoever.

José Colón
José Colón

The Only Vote for Hope Donald Trump for President

Jeff Marston
Jeff Marston

It's really rather stunning when you think about it.  Virginia is an open primary state.  State law says you get to vote--you get to choose a party ballot regardless of who you are or how registered.  Yet, an election official is actually saying political party policy trumps (no pun intended) state law.  AND, at least for the time being, the Secretary of State's office is agreeing with her. While concern about Trump supporter "behavior" is a main reason given for the request to Board of Supervisors, in reality, this will have a voters' rights impact on everyone in the Republican field.  There will be Democrats and Independents who will want to cross over and vote for Cruz, Bush, Rubio and the rest and there rights are being denied as well.

Tim Sisco
Tim Sisco

I am definitely very conservative, but it doesn't sound like what he's doing is legal.

GetHelp
GetHelp

Many States have adopted this idea over the years. Typically when they have suspected Democrats of going to a Republican caucus or voting in a RNC primary which greatly influences who goes on the ballot. Especially when same Dems then vote for their Democrat on the General Election ballot. And vice versa, I should add.

Nina Giarraffa
Nina Giarraffa

Every American Citizen should be able to vote for who they want, without any laws.

Tim Masters
Tim Masters

I fail to see how signing a loyalty pledge is supposed to sway my vote the general election.

Tim Babeu
Tim Babeu

You don't get a ballot unless you're voting republican? Really?

Har Justice
Har Justice

Doesn't this violate the freedom of association in the US Constitution?

Tim Allen
Tim Allen

Thoroughly reprehensible and clearly unconstitutional. Glad I don't live in that state.

Zora Wilks
Zora Wilks

I WOULD CERTAINLY CHELLENGE ANY SUCH LEGAL ELECTION LAW .

Steve Shirland
Steve Shirland

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO SIGN A "LOYALTY" OATH, IS THIS AMERICA? OR NAZI GERMANY

Mary Mchugh
Mary Mchugh

pledge to a party i dont think so your free to do what you want FREE TO VOTE FOR WHO YOU WANT even if your in a union

George Osborne
George Osborne

GET ANGRY AND MAD AS HELL, BUT BE SMART... WASHINGTON AND THE GOP FEAR THIS MAN.... SO GET ANGRY AT WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO AMERICA... Donald Trump For President.. HE IS WHAT THE CORRUPT FEAR..

George Osborne
George Osborne

NOT A LEGAL MOVE WITHOUT A GENERAL ELECTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO DECIDE... CHECK STATE LAWS AND YOU WILL SEE..

George Osborne
George Osborne

NO THEY CAN NOT.. NOT WITHOUT A GENERAL ELECTION... CHECK STATE LAWS....

Gayle Walker
Gayle Walker

ust sign the pledge. Republicans love liars.

Dawn Duchon
Dawn Duchon

I am a little independent voter. Will not vote for Hillary.\U0001f47a\U0001f47a

Michael Byram
Michael Byram

It is called rigged election and un-American!

Patrick Lawrence
Patrick Lawrence

I don't believe this! I live in Virginia and will be glad to run this to ground. Who, precisely, said this?

Lee Baker
Lee Baker

That election official VIOLATED Trump's FREEDOM OF CHOICE...

Janet Barry
Janet Barry

In AZ, only registered democrats and republicans can vote. We had to turn away a lot of independent voters in the obama election. But once the two main ones are chosen, all can vote. Every state has their own rules, maybe it shouldn't be that way.

Jonny Crash
Jonny Crash

im an independent and switched to dem, ill sign any oath they want to vote for who i want and switch back later if it ever comes to it lol

Judith Glomb
Judith Glomb

WTF! This has got to be against the law and the constitution!

G Ashleigh Moody III
G Ashleigh Moody III

All you have to do Independents, Libertarians and Democrats is sign the form and become a "Republican for a Day" during the voting process!! Republicans do it all the time in Virginia where Democrats require the same at their Primaries! Trump supporters, don't let a few GOP weasels get away with their bigotry.

Cassandra Sullivan Fitzgerald
Cassandra Sullivan Fitzgerald

The pledge is not legally binding. Just sign it and vote. These morons are trying to reduce turnout because they would rather lose and get Hillary so that they can keep their status quo. Don't let them do it. #Trump2016 #TrumpLandslide #TeamTrump #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

Elliott T Allen
Elliott T Allen

Virginia Whiteside Fussell Please stop yelling at me and everyone else...

Bob Wiggs
Bob Wiggs

You spend money telling people to be sure and vote. EVERY VOTE COUNTS is your big slogan. Then you pull something stupid like this pledge deal and make everybody stay home so you really never get a honest feeling vote. This is not kindergarten. Use a little common sense.

Glenn Maitland
Glenn Maitland

It used to be in New Jersey that if you voted in a Primary, then you can vote only that Party in the following Election.

Virginia Whiteside Fussell
Virginia Whiteside Fussell

AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY OR DEMOCRAT'S PRIMARY. AND PLEASE DO NOT PUT THIS ON DONALD TRUMP HE IS NOT EVEN PART OG OUR GOVERNMENT YET.

Virginia Whiteside Fussell
Virginia Whiteside Fussell

IT'S NOT REPUBLICAN'S IT'S DEMOCRAT'S TOO IT;S ALL OF THEM THAT WANT'S CONTROL OF HOW YOU VOTE, I DO NOT VOTE BY PARTY I VOTE AS TO WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR COUNTRY. AND IT'S MY BUSINESS NOT ANYONE ELSE'S.

Glenn Rich
Glenn Rich

Reading comprehension Davie, Reading comprehension

Meaner Been'er
Meaner Been'er

I'll sign an oath to never spend a nickel in Virginia.

Virginia Whiteside Fussell
Virginia Whiteside Fussell

THIS IS WRONG NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW HOW YOU VOTED AND AT THE LAST MIN. SOMEONE COULD CHANGE THEIR MIND. WE ALL NEED TO FIGHT THIS. ITS ANOTHER WAY OUR GOVERNMENT TRYING TO TAKE MORE OF OUR RIGHT;S.

Stacy Sacra
Stacy Sacra

So they whine about government impeding on 2nd Amendment rights, but now those same idiots want to impose this???? Laughable and idiotic!!!

Mark Bost
Mark Bost

Pledging to vote for a candidate of any party, just because that is the "party choice" is ludicrous. What if the party chooses Jeb Bush and there is a Libertarian candidate that I like much much better, I am expected (if I vote in the Republican primary) to vote for Jeb Bush. Nope, not going to happen. You Republicans make your choice and if I like your choice I'll vote for your candidate, but if I don't you can't count on me (that is a pledge I can keep).

Larry Longstrange Tripp
Larry Longstrange Tripp

Elizabeth Tompkins if We The People pay for it we say. If the two crime syndicates want to be buttholes like this pay for it.

Billy Deputy
Billy Deputy

also I don't care how you feel about your wife getting into the country and the process, its not about catering to people who marry abroad its about keeping people like the san berdino guy from bringing a mail order jihadist terrorist to help him reproduce and carry out attacks on American soil.. I CALL THAT SELFISH. so fact check all you want but I suggest you watch the Sunday morning interviews and speeches from his podium and not the news clips that take things out of context. if anyone wants to come to America and doesn't like the process they can blame the radical jihad aba aba aba's for declaring war and vowing to destroy us not trump.. this country's safety isn't going to cater to foreigners. its going to cater to Americans and keeping us safe. and even foreigners who come to this country to live and partake in the way of life here can agree we all want to feel safe and definitely should have secure boarders and a strong economy.

David W. Andrews
David W. Andrews

Virginia is acting against the U.S. Constitution in many ways. We have a liberal government that is not complying with the laws and these people should be charged with violations of the law.